If you’ve ever seen a cheesy horror movie, you know that newspapers and ghosts go together like peanut butter and jelly.
There’s always the scene where the main character is looking through old newspaper archives and finds an important plot point that explains where the ghost or monster came from.
Look through the archives of The Raleigh Register and The Post Herald and you’ll find all sorts of stories about visitors from the beyond.
In April 1965, a precursor paper to The Register-Herald, the Beckley Post-Herald, ran an article about ghost stories from local towns.
The story, written by columnist Shirley Donnelly in 1965, tells a tale about running into an old friend at the airport.
Bill Harris of the Beckley Veteran’s Hospital is making small talk with the writer and tells him about a secret grave near “the old Penman Road.”
The writer tags along to see a hidden grave that belonged to a man born in 1867. Harris tells the writer that this isn’t the hidden grave he wanted him to see. In reality, there is a grave near that one and it is somewhat unmarked. It has a headstone and foot marker, but both are completely blank, the story says.
The story goes on to tell about the area of Blue Jay and how it was named for the Blue Jay lumber company.
This is where the haunting begins.
“Harris is full of the tales and folklore of the old-timers of that community,” Donnelly writes. “As we crossed a little draw, Harris told me we were approaching a section that was haunted or ‘hanted’ as he called it.”
Folks from the community, especially young men, would refuse to travel the roads of Blue Jay at night.
“On the darkest nights, the clanking of heavy log chains could be distinctly heard, along with the lumbering sound of rolling logs,” Donnelly writes. “Asked if the phenomenon still exists, Harris said he had no recent knowledge of it.”
Although the rattling chains and rolling logs of the saw mill had faded, there was one legend that seemed to continue.
As the two men turned down the road, Harris pointed out a spot where a house once stood.
“The story of that haunted house was that a man and his wife moved in with their baby,” Donnelly writes. “One day, the baby disappeared. Nothing was ever heard of it again.”
The couple left the community, but didn’t leave a forwarding address for mail, the article says.
Those who walk by the old house-site say they hear a baby crying in three tones.
“First there would be a loud scream, like the cry of a child being tortured,” Donnelly writes. “Another scream always followed. This one seemed to lose strength. As the third cry rang out, it sounded like a weakened moan, like a light going out.”
Locals believed that the child was murdered and that its ghost still haunted the house where it was killed, the article says.
The article ends with the two men driving away as fast as they can to avoid any specters and spirits that might still be in the area.